Day 1 Arrive Madrid
Check-in to the hotel and head straight out into Madrid to get a feel for the city’s high energy life style. Moving to a whole lot of different beats, Madrid is packed with diverse barrios (neighbourhoods), lively plazas and a healthy nightlife.
Later, meet up with the other Contiki travellers and your Trip Manager over dinner.
Day 2 Madrid
This morning, get inspired as your Local Guide opens up Madrid’s monumental heart with a look at its bustling centre, complete with the Gran Via, the Plaza de Espana and Puerta del Sol.
Then, step into the largest palace in Europe with our Local Guide and experience a slice of the royal lifestyle as our expert shows you through the Royal Palace’s lavish rooms. If there’s a state function happening, we’ll head to the world-famous Prado Museum instead.
In your free time, snack on the local favourite, churros (Spain’s version of the doughnut) or grab a chilled cerveza (beer) and put your feet up. There’s also a chance to explore the Valley of the Fallen where our Local Guide will tell you the story about the Spanish Dictator Franco and the Civil War.
This city never sleeps, so get some pointers on the city’s hot spots.
Day 3 Madrid to Bilbao
Head North to Bilbao, the Basque country’s busiest city. Stop by the pretty hillside town of Segovia, with its grand mansions and many squares. See the jaw-droppingly beautiful Roman Aqueduct, made up of 166 granite arches. This bridge is an impressive feat of ancient engineering.
Onwards to Bilbao. An up-and-coming cultural hub, Bilbao is the down-to-earth home of one of the world’s most famous and iconic museums, the Museo Guggenheim. Use your free time to check out its amazing collection of 20th century art and keep a camera handy for the extraordinary architecture of the museum itself.
Day 4 Bilbao to Pamplona
Start the day off with free time in the resort town of San Sebastian. With one of the world’s most stunning urban beaches, a gorgeous Art Nouveau shopping district, loads of restaurants and the best pinxtos (bite-sized snacks on toothpicks) in Spain, you’ve got many ways to spend your time here.
Later, pull into Pamplona, home of the world famous Festival de San Fermin. Explore the well-preserved old town and its incredible Gothic cathedral before immersing yourself in some traditional Basque culture. Taste regional specialties like barbecued lamb, fresh trout and red peppers and soak in the atmosphere of this historic town.
Day 5 Pamplona to Barcelona
Chill out on the coach, plug in your headphones and watch the world go by. Heading to the coast, our next stop is the Baroque city of Zaragoza, set on the banks of the Rio Ebro. Check out the town’s fantastic cathedral, with its colourfully tiled cupolas and towers. Grab a table in the casco (old town), order a traditional Spanish churros for a snack and take in the unique, historic architecture and atmosphere.
Next up is Barcelona. A sizzling, festive city any night of the week, Barcelona is all about action. First up: admire Montjuic. The hilltop has full-blown vistas of the city and it’s where we stop to check out the 1992 Olympic Games complex.
Day 6 Barcelona
Today there’s free time to discover more of Barcelona’s creative core. Pick up some quirky buys in the side streets or hit the big label shops on Gran Via or the Gothic Quarter. Take in all of Barcelona’s buzzing street life on the tree-lined La Rambla – a boulevard packed with street performers, artists, shops and stalls.
Give an optional bike tour a go and get off the beaten track and onto Barcelona's side streets with our Local Guide.
Other ideas for your afternoon off include hanging out in the colourful gardens of Parc Güell or kicking back with the locals on the beach and taking a swim in the Mediterranean sea. For lunch, there’s plenty of delicious local seafood to try as well as Spain’s signature dish, paella.
Tonight get the low down on Barcelona’s hottest spots and maybe hit the pumping clubs of Port Olympico by the water.
Day 7 Barcelona to Valencia
A new day, a new glorious spot to explore. We wave goodbye to the beach vibes, buzzing La Ramblas and delicious tapas line streets and make track to Valencia.
Spain's third largest city, and up and coming traveller favourite, Valencia has been putting itself on the map for all the right reasons. Even in winter, it's beach is well worth a visit, if not just for some people watching. The city is situated on the banks of the Turia, this sits on the Mediterranean Sea, and offers year-round sunshine, for those perfect winter rays. On arrival, we'll get your bearings sorted out stat, as we discover the city sights and learn about the home of the Holy Grail. We love the Old Town as a place to head for where the action is at when the sun goes down, so hit your Trip Manager up for some recommendations in Barrio del Carmen, or for a more chilled scene there are endless bars around Plaza Cánovas, just waiting for you sweet traveller!
Day 8 Valencia to Granada
You were short, you were sweet, but damn Valencia you made an impact. They say that West is Best, and with that in mind we head to Granada for some Moorish vibes, a gorgeous palace and more delicious Spanish foods you can indulge in from sun up to sun down.
Granada is brimming with romance and offering an eclectic mix of North African and Spanish feels, this is one place you may never want to leave.
Day 9 Granada
Start the day with an optional excursion through the old Muslim quarter of Albaicin. Walk past historic mansions with walled gardens and find cute little tea and cake shops on the cobbled streets. Our Local Guide will show the group through La Cartuja Monastery and the Capilla Real where you’ll see the tombs of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella – heads of the fallen Spanish empire.
Next up: the stunning UNESCO World Heritage site of Alhambra.
We’ve got a specialist Alhambra guide who will bring the magic of this former home of the sultans to life. Take a walk through the complex of fortifications, sumptuous palaces and gardens.
Day 10 Granada to Seville
Pass the port cities of Marbella and Malaga. We stop in the unusual and quirky territory of Gibraltar, with its interesting mix of British culture, Spanish influence and some North African wildlife! Make sure you check out Gibraltar’s world-famous monkeys and learn about the legends surrounding how they got here all the way from Morocco.
On a clear day, you’ll get views across the strait to the continent of Africa.
Back on the road, unwind on the coach before our final stop in Seville.
Day 11 Seville
With a run down on Seville’s background, your Tour Manager will show you the flamboyant Plaza d’Espana, the world’s 3rd largest cathedral, the Giralda, and the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Alcazar, still used by the Royal Family.
In your free time, you could visit Christopher Columbus’ tomb, or Perhaps join us for a visit to the Plaza de Toros before indulging in some of the local tapas. For something different, head to El Jueves street market and pick out some bargains.
Day 12 Seville to Cordoba
We keep travelling into the heart of rural Andalusia, through to Cordoba. It’s soaked in history and serves up an old-world atmosphere, with little patios, time-worn lanes and flower-filled balconies.
Your Trip Manager kick starts your experience of the city by taking the group to the Mezquita (Mosque of the Caliphs). This famous site combines Islamic and Roman Catholic structures in a stunning series of buildings, complete with an orange tree garden and courtyards.
Then there’s free time to wander around Cordoba’s historic centre and to take in its famously beautiful streets, like the Calle de Flores (Street of Flowers). Otherwise, learn about Spain’s checkered past with a visit to the 13th century Alcazar fortress, the former hub of the Spanish Inquisition.
Day 13 Cordoba to Madrid
Hit the road and travel to the hill-top town of Toledo. With its mix of mosques, churches and medieval buildings, this gorgeous town is known as the “Imperial City” and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You’ll see Toledo’s enormous Gothic cathedral, El Greco’s house and the site of sieges, revolutions and treason: the Alcazar fortress.
Then it’s back in to the Spanish capital. Make your last night on tour one to remember and head out with the group for an optional traditional Spanish tapas dinner (a feast of plate-sized nibbles) in the heart of the city, right on the famous Plaza Mayor.
Day 14 Depart Madrid
Your tour ends after breakfast and it’s time to say farewell to your new friends.
Touring with Contiki
Started by one man with big dreams in 1962, Contiki now offers over 300 trips to 6 continents for 18 to 35 year olds, with the mantra #NOREGRETS. It’s their way of life; it’s about changing your perspective on the world, walking in other’s shoes, witnessing different cultures, religions, and ways of living; it’s about living in the moment, pushing past your comfort zone, challenging yourself to do the things you never thought possible.
Contiki believe that travel is so much more than just ticking boxes and saying you were there. It’s not about doing things for the sake of doing them, or seeing things just because you should. For them, travel is all about experience. It’s the number of sunsets you’ve watched with best friends, the number of ancient landmarks you’ve visited, the number of times you’ve defied your comfort zone and done the extraordinary. So that’s what their trips are all about – the #NOREGRETS experiences that will make you, the traveller, richer than your wildest dreams.
Their incredible experiences encompass all interests and cultures – bathing in the Blue Lagoon in Iceland, seeing the pyramids of Giza, walking the Great Wall of China, roadtrip along Route 66, watch the sunrise over Uluru, party in Las Vegas, snorkel the Great Barrier Reef, zipline through the Costa Rica rainforest, see the Mona Lisa, fly over the Grand Canyon or cuddle a Koala. The cost of your trip ensures Contiki take care of all your travel arrangements, accommodation, breakfasts and dinners, organised activities, plenty of free time and optional ‘me’ time activities to put your own unique stamp on your travel experience.
Contiki cater to all travellers, whether you want to cram in as many destinations as possible and experience everything or stick in one region for a while for an in depth exploration to really get under the skin of the country, they have the trip for you and many other options in between. Choose a purely water-based adventure with their Sailing, Cruise and Beach holidays, or snowy travels with the Winter holidays and even purely camping accommodation to make the most of your holiday budget but still see and experience all your destination has to offer.
Contiki is a founding partner of TreadRight, a not-for-profit foundation established by The Travel Corporation in 2008 to encourage sustainable tourism within its family of amazing travel brands. The TreadRight Foundation acts as an older, wiser sibling to Contiki, guiding them down a more sustainable path. The TreadRight Foundation supports projects that help the environment, protect and conserve ecosystems, and benefit communities. The foundation, along with The Travel Corporation brands, has donated in excess of US$2 million towards international sustainable tourism projects - a figure that continues to rise.